It speaks volumes about the UPA’s efficacy in managing the bureaucracy. The list of ad hoc appointments, observers say, is growing, showing the Government’s penchant for temporary appointments. After the appointment of Ranjit Sinha as the new CBI Chief, the Government named Dr. Mahboob Alam as the Director General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Force on ad hoc basis. Now ITBP has finally got a new Chief in Ajay Chadha, who was Special Secretary in the Home Ministry.
Alam may be relieved that he no longer holds this additional responsibility but babuwatchers say that landing babus with additional responsibilities has become becoming a norm for heading departments and organisations. Earlier, the Government brought in M.F. Farooqui as temporary Secretary in the Environment and Forests Ministry, but then quickly reversed its decision and named V Rajagopalan as the full-fledged secretary. Similarly there is no full-term Secretary in crucial departments such as Disinvestment and Heavy industries. So far D.K. Mittal, who is Secretary in the Department of Financial Services, is holding additional charge of Disinvestment. But no one knows what will happen once he retires next month.
Politics and babus
Regardless of the formal transfer policy in place, senior bureaucrats in Jammu & Kashmir remain at the mercy of their political masters. Though the policy clearly states that all bureaucrats serving on a particular post can be transferred only after a minimum of two years and maximum of three years, the rule is flouted more often than not by the State Government. Sources point out that recently, out of the seven IAS officers transferred, two officers — Gazanfar Hussain and K.B. Agarwal, were moved out within seven months of their last posting. In contrast, it is pointed out, there are officers like Mushtaq Ahmed Peer, who has already got two extensions as Chairman of the J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examination. Though the State Government claims that the officers were transferred “in the interest of administration”, babus believe that political connections play a big role in transfers in the State. Clearly, for a babu in J&K it pays to have “connections” with the ruling dispensation if they wish to survive.
Is IAS special?
The IAS babus have always considered themselves a cut above the rest of their civil service brethren, a view that has put them at odds with the IPS, IFS and other services. Now the view is also shared by a CBI special court judge who recently sentenced a retired IAS officer to five years in jail for amassing illegal wealth. The CBI special judge D.K. Sharma while handing down the sentence observed that the nation had higher expectations from IAS officials, given that they hold most of the senior positions in Government. Therefore, he added, they should also face exemplary punishment when they deviate from the path. The accused, S. Malaichamy, is a retired IAS officer of the 1971 batch. He now faces jail time besides paying a fine of Rs. 10 lakh for possessing disproportionate assets. Perhaps just this once, the “heaven-born” may wish to announce that they are nothing special, really!